Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Lord, All I Wanted Was . . ."~

Sometimes,
most times it seems,
we get handed more
than what we bargained for.

Me,
all I wanted was a burrito.

Stopping by a favorite breakfast spot
my husband and I frequented
whenever we were blessed with mornings that "matched",
I stood at the counter
ordering my favorite burrito to go.

I've done this on occasion,
every other two weeks or so,
off and on for almost a year and a half now.

But yesterday,
as I was reaching into my wallet to pay,
the waitress who had waited on my husband and I
time and time again,
reached right into my heart.
As I handed her the money,
she unexpectedly handed me this:

"Are you dating?"

No doubt,
if I'd been eating my burrito at the time,
I would have choked.

"I'm sorry, what?
Dating?
Hmm.......no."

"It's time.
You need to be.
You're still beautiful and young and he would want you to enjoy your life.
Do it.
It's time."

With that,
she reached over the counter,
swallowed me up in a hug,
handed me my burrito
and sent me out the door.

With a burrito in my hand
and unsolicited words in my heart,
I made my way to my car.
And, I just sat there.

"Lord, all I wanted was a burrito."

The words tumbled out of my heart
in a prayer that said what all the rest of me couldn't.

Minus the burrito part,
it's a prayer the Lord has heard frequently
over the past year and a half.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Rushing home from work to get my husband to the hospital . . .
only to be too late.

Happily serving the Lord in ministry . . .
only to be let go.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

As I sat in my car,
my burrito getting colder by the minute,
God, in the most amazing way,
began to warm my heart
with reminders of other times
I had spoken this exact same phrase.

Wanting a few extra days of paid time off after my husband's death
only to be given this
and several weeks more -
a gift from my gracious co-workers.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my airfare to Delaware covered for my speaking engagement this past March
only to be given this
and a $400 honorarium, and $300 love offering.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my expenses covered at a women's retreat I spoke at a week later
only to be given this
and a $100 honorarium, and a $550 love offering.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

Wanting my roof repaired and a damaged ceiling patched up, dry-walled, and painted
only to be given this
and the ordering, delivery, and free installation of a new air conditioner,
a leaky faucet repaired, blinds hung, and so much more.

"Lord, all I wanted was . . . "

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord.
"And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
~Isaiah 55:8-9

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
~Psalms 23:1

Sitting in the parking lot
I began to see the "extras" in my life,
all of them, -
those that I didn't want,
those that I felt left me coming up short,
and those that I knew were over the top,
all in the light of the Good Shepherd.

How could I possibly know what I want?
How could I possibly know what I need?
How could I possibly know
what God has purposed,
what God has planned,
what God has prepared for those who love Him?

The Good Shepherd knows better than me
what I need,
what is best,
what His purposes and His plans are.

Even more than me,
He longs for me to be
whole,
complete,
lacking nothing.

He longs for me to follow Him.
He longs for me to trust Him.
He longs for me
to see Him,
to hear Him,
to experience Him
in each and everyone of the "extras" of life.

I placed my key in the ignition
and buckled by seat belt.

Yes, sometimes,
most times it seems,
we get handed more
than what we bargained for.

May we learn to thank God for the "more" -
no matter how it comes packaged,
believing if we follow our Good Shepherd,
we will never "want".










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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Every. Single. One.~









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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

When It IS What It IS~

A man cave?
No, my husband definitely wouldn't have referred
to our spare bedroom as a "man cave".
After all,
it didn't have a big screen TV,
pool table or dart board.
But, make no doubt about it,
it was "his" room.

All the signs were there.

One wall was home to a gun rack
which was home not to guns,
but rather several bows,
and a pool stick
(even though we don't own a pool table).

One wall showcased three different sets of deer antlers,
a mounted deer head,
and a mounted rainbow trout.

One wall displayed canvases turned art,
painted by his very own sister.

It was definitely his room.

And, I say was and were  -
not so much because he is no longer here,
but because a leaking roof
and now,
this week, plans for new drywall and paint -
had me removing everything
that had always been
from each of these walls.

Not an easy task,
especially for one like me,
who is so sentimental and
who has been trying to hold onto
all the "normal" I can.

And sure, after the work is finished,
I can "put back" everything
in the same place it was,
but in my heart,
I know it won't be the same.

It will never be the same again.

And this is what has me struggling the most.

As I stared at the blank walls,
the words I spoke to God
echoed back at me as though I
was standing in an empty cave -

It's just you and me, God.
It's just us and
that wall and that wall and that wall and that wall.
And, Lord, You and I both know,
I'm never going to get everything back on the walls
in the exact same place and exact same way they were before.

No matter how hard we try,
we can't hold on to what once was.
We just can't.

Nothing stays the same.
Life is a constant ebb and flow of change -
day and night,
spring, summer, fall, and winter,
birth, childhood, adulthood,
life and death.

As I stood in this barren space,
wiping one tear after another,
God, as only God can do,
began to whisper to my broken heart.

You're right. 
You're absolutely right.
You won't be able to re-create the room
to the way it was before
because you don't have his touch.

But, think of the possibilities, sweet girl.

And honestly,
do you really want a mounted deer head
hanging on your wall?

Truth -
when it hits you,
it hits you.

And those fishing rods,
and bows,
and all of the rest -
they are just things, sweet girl.

They aren't him.
Having them in this room
is not going to bring him back.

Seeing them everyday is not going to 
take away the ache,
take away the lonely,
take away the want.

Look at these walls -
what do you see?
What can you envision doing with this brand new space?

Catch a vision, sweet girl,
not of what was,
but of what can be.

And I realize once again -
something that I now realize
I am going to have to keep realizing
over and over and over again:

God is doing a new thing.

IS -
not might,
not may one day,
IS.

This IS my reality.
Four blank walls surrounding me
and a blank life out in front of me.

Think of the possibilities, sweet girl.
You're right.
You're absolutely right.
It's just you and Me,
and yet,
I'm the one who can do immeasurably more
than you can think or imagine.
It's not going to be the same,
but it's going to be more than ok.
Keep holding on to Me
and together we'll hang up one day of life
and decorate one wall of this new season,
one moment at a time.

Look at these days spread out before you -
what do you see?
What can you envision doing with this brand new space?
Catch a vision, sweet girl,
not of what was,
but of what can be.

Little by little,
I begin to see it -
a chair there,
a writing desk here,
a canvas print of one of my photos on this wall,
and that wall,
and maybe that wall, too.

Little by little
I begin to see this, too -
God and I ministering to hearts
here,
there,
and maybe even over there.

And,
most surprising of all,
I begin to feel it -
a teeny, tiny tinge
of excitement,
an itty bitty bit
of anticipation,
a smidgen of
yes,
(I think it is),
joy
at the vision I am beginning to envision.

I have a feeling,
once it's all in place
and God and I have made it "ours",
my handsome honey wouldn't even mind.

"Enjoy, Beautiful, Enjoy."

"I will, Handome. I will."

You know,
come to think of it -
I've always thought our garage would look nice
with a mounted deer head hanging in it.

I think it's time to find out.









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Monday, July 10, 2017

An Open Letter to A Grieving Mom

Oh, precious one -
You have been on my heart
and in my prayers non-stop.
These words - simply an expression of my heart.

When a child loses a parent,
the new "title" given is orphan.
When a husband loses his wife
or a wife loses her husband,
widow.

And yet,
when a parent loses a child,
the loss is so indescribable
there is no word in the human language
associated with this unthinkable loss.

And loss - no matter how it comes - is something
no one truly understands or
truly knows how to react or respond to.

It changes everything - forever.
It changes you - forever.

People on the outside of your heart
looking in,
see your hurt.
No doubt,
they feel your pain.

Many are grieving with you,
shedding tears of their own.

But the thing is this:
no matter how much they long
to comfort you,
to ease your pain,
to shield you from this excruciating,
almost unbearable heartache -
they can't.

Because you see,
no one but you,
knows the true extent of your loss.

Only your heart knows
the love you had for your precious child.

Only your heart knows
the fullness their life brought
and the complete emptiness their absence brings.

Only your heart knows
the little things shared
between their heart and yours.

Only your heart knows
all your hopes and dreams
for days that were yet to come
and the bitter sting of unfulfilled moments
and never to be made memories.

Only you and you alone.

As hard as it is to admit this to be true -
there is not one other person
on this planet who understands
what you are going through,
what you are feeling,
what you are thinking,
what you are experiencing,
because no one knows you
and no one knows the child you are grieving
like you do.

No one.

No one, except God, that is.

Without you trying to finds words,
He knows.

Without you trying to express
what can never truly be expressed,
He knows.

Without you even knowing how
to help Him know,
He knows.

And, He's faithfully present 24-7,
all day,
all night,
always.

He listens.
He understands.
He comforts.
He gently holds.

And in moments of anger and
 "why, Lord, why",
He draws especially close.
And I imagine in these moments -
the hard moments when your heart
longs to understand,
it is then,
most of all,
He sheds tears with you,
just like He wept with Mary and Martha
when they lost their brother, Lazarus.

And, I have a feeling,
because He is the only one
who truly understands,
He grieves more than anyone,-
maybe even more than you and I do.

Oh sweet heart,
you have already lost
the most precious one to you
this side of Heaven.

 Don't lose The One most precious, too.

Hold on to God
with everything you have,
and all that you don't.

Having God in your life
isn't going to change your situation,
isn't going to take away
the pain, heartache, and emptiness,
isn't going to replace what you have lost,
isn't going to make your feel suddenly better.

Having God in your life
is going to change
your ability to cope,
your desire to get out of bed in the morning,
your resolve to keep breathing and living,
your willingness to give up the need to understand,
(which will only hold you prisoner until you do)
your ability to let go of guilt and regret,
(which will only hold you prisoner until you do)
your steps moving forward from here.

Having God in your life is going to change you.

When no one else can,
not even you,
God can.

When no one else will,
not even you,
God will.

When no one else - period,
not even you,
God.

He is your only hope.

And yet,
when you have your hope in Him,
you will find,
you have all that you need.

I love you and I am on my knees for you.








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Saturday, July 8, 2017

When Going Deeper Takes You Higher~

We come to know God
at the deepest level
when we experience Him
during our lowest lows.

It is during need,
we come to know Him as our Provider.

It is during sickness,
we come to know Him as our Healer.

It is during uncertainty,
we come to know Him as our Counselor.

It is during chaos,
we come to know Him as our Peace.

It is during battle,
we come to know Him as our Defender.

It is during heartache,
we come to know Him as our Comforter.

It is during wandering,
we come to know Him as our Shepherd.

It is during abandonment,
we come to know Him as our Abba Daddy.

It is during heartbreak,
we come to know Him as the Lover of our soul.

It is during judgment,
we come to know Him as our Righteousness.

It is during loneliness,
we come to know Him as our Friend.

It is during rejection,
we come to know Him as our Redeemer.

It is during shame and guilt,
we come to know Him as our Savior.

It is during darkness,
we come to know Him as our Light.

It is during trials,
we come to know Him as our Refiner.

It is during identity-crisis,
we come to know Him as our Creator.

It is during challenges,
we come to know Him as our Father.

It is during sinking,
we come to know Him as our Rock.

It is during confusion,
we come to know Him as our Truth.

It is during "I'm not able to",
we come to know Him as our great I AM.

And, when we come to know God
at the deepest level,
we find he always takes us
to our highest highs.










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Sunday, July 2, 2017

If and Only When~

When the answer to your question
is not the answer you had in mind,
but an answer that more than answers your question,
it is most likely an answer given by a child.
Let me explain.

As we sat in Children's church,
reviewing the fruit of the Spirit,
I asked the following questions:

"What kind of fruit would an apple tree grow?"

"An apple!!!" the children replied.

"What kind of fruit would an orange tree grow?"

"An orange!!!" the children said is unison.

"If the Holy Spirit is living in our heart, what kind of fruit will we grow?"

"Other Christians!!!" one boy shouted excitedly.

It wasn't the answer I had in mind,
but it was more than an answer to the question I had asked.

If we as Christians,
allow the Holy Spirit
to have His way,
to live in us and through us,
to grow
love,
joy,
peace,
patience,
kindness,
goodness,
faithfulness,
gentleness,
and self control in us,
we will indeed grow other Christians.

When hate is answered back with love.
When despair is answered back with joy.
When strife and unrest is answered back with peace.
When short-tempered is answered back with patience.
When meanness is answered back with kindness.
When doing wrong is answered back with goodness.
When betrayal is answered back with faithfulness.
When sternness is answered back with gentleness.
When human reaction is answered back with self-control.

This is when Jesus is seen.
This is when hearts are drawn to know Him more.
This is when a seed that will produce a "Christian"
is sowed into another heart.

But - sadly,
we don't always choose to represent Christ
in the beauty and truth
of who He is.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

When the answer to your question
is not the answer you had in mind,
but an answer that more than answers your question,
it is most likely an answer given by a child.
Let me explain.

His words broke my heart.

Partly because I have been in his shoes,
but mostly,
mostly because I could only imagine
how this whole scenario
must have broken the heart of Jesus, Himself.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

A grown man,
he told the story of growing up in church.
How each week his Sunday School teacher
scolded him,
pointed out every wrong thing he did,
and told him
if he didn't straighten up,
he was going to Hell.

One day she added,
"What's wrong with you, boy?
Don't you want to be with Jesus?
Don't you want to go to Heaven?"

A mere six year old,
he lowered his face to the ground
and shook his head, "no".

The teacher was appalled.

"You don't want to go to Heaven?
How could you not want to go to Heaven?"

This young boy,
with all the innocence and honesty
his heart could muster into words,
looked up at this "woman of God" and replied,
"Well, you're going to be there, right?
I, uh well, I just don't want to be there.
I don't think I would like it there
with you and Jesus,
especially with no way to leave
or ever go home."

And, who could blame him
for coming to this conclusion,
for deciding if Jesus was anything like this woman,
he didn't want anything to do with Heaven,
or anything to do with Jesus?

Thankfully,
as a child,
most of the people who told me about Jesus,
not only talked about Him,
but walked out the beauty and love of Him
in their lives.

Sadly,
as an adult, however,
this hasn't always been the case.
Those professing to be Jesus followers,
those serving in His name,
those called into ministry,
have been some of the most un-Christlike people
I have known.

If they were the only view I had of Jesus,
if they were all that I glimpsed of His character and heart,
if they were who I thought Jesus was like,
just like this young boy,
I wouldn't want anything to do with
Jesus or Heaven, either.

Especially not forever and ever and ever and ever.

Mean people and Jesus followers -
together,
all mixed up,
professing to be one and the same.

And, I sit here thinking of me.

What is it that people see
when they watch my life?

How is this Jesus I talk about
being conveyed
to their hearts?

Am I a deterrent?
Am I causing people to turn tail and run
as far from God as they can?

And, I'm reminded again of the answer given by a child -
so simple and yet so profound we cannot afford to
simply skip past it,
simply chuckle at the simplicity of it,
simply move on.

The value of a soul depends on us
unwrapping this,
unpacking it,
digesting it,
and living it out in our life.

"If the Holy Spirit is living in our heart, what kind of fruit will we grow?"

"Other Christians!!!" one boy shouted excitedly.

But, 
if and only when
the Holy Spirit is living in our heart.








  
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Monday, June 26, 2017

Tucked in With the Thorns~

Sometimes,
God's blessings come packaged in ways
that cause us to question His heart
or wonder what good
could possibly be hidden inside.

And yet,
if we trust our Father
and receive of His gift,
we discover the treasure inside
is beyond anything
we could ever have hoped or imagined
it to be.

God is all knowing,
all loving,
all the time.

Trials,
heartaches,
disappointments -
not gifts we would welcome into our life,
but gifts, none the less.

As we unwrap these gifts,
we unwrap the heart of God.

We discover anew
His faithfulness.

We experience deeper
His joy -
a joy that remains in spite of.

We build a faith that
is able to thank God
in the midst of
for the good that is sure to come.

Rest assured,
our Heavenly Father always blesses us
with that which matters most.

We just need to be willing
to open our hands
and receive His gift.









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Monday, June 19, 2017

Answering the Call~

"You're moving to New Jersey?! Are you kidding me?!"

I can still see the look on my dad's face
and hear the sound of my mom's voice
as she asked what seemed to be a more than valid question
of her then 22 year old daughter.

"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me there
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
This native New Mexican packed all she could
into all the suitcases she had (a whopping count of two!)
and flew to New Jersey.
And, truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

"What?! You're taking a teaching job in Wisconsin?!
Are you kidding me?!"
(Aren't you so glad, that in a constantly changing, unpredictable world,
our parents stay predictably the same? Me, too!)

I can still see the look on my dad's face
and hear the sound of my mom's voice as she asked,
what again,
seemed to be a more than valid question
as I launched into my teaching career.

"I just know God is calling me there."

This time,
before I could continue,
my dad interrupted with a one liner
packed to the brim with truth.
"Darlin, it snows there."
I knew what he was saying.
It snows in New Mexico, too,
but Daddies worry about their daughters
moving to a place where IT SNOWS,
like in Wisconsin.

"I know, Daddy.
But, I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me there,
amongst all the snow drifts,
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
Once again,
this native New Mexican packed all she could
into a U-haul trailer and headed west -
in a truck driven by her mother,
and shared with her little sister.
And, truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

"What? You're moving to New Mexico again?!
 WONDERFUL!
When should we be there with the truck and U-haul?!"

(Amazingly, sometimes parents can even be predictable
when their response doesn't mirror words you've heard before,
but their heart cry does.)

"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will and He really wanted me there
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
This new found lover of snow
re-packed all she had
and placed them back in another rented U-haul
hooked up to the same truck
that had brought her to Wisconsin.
And truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

Not because each place didn't have a newness to overcome and challenges to face.
Not because being so far away from "home" was easy and comfortable.
Not because stepping out on my own was anything I ever wanted to do.

But, because God was calling and God met me there.

"You're moving into God's calling? Are you kidding me?"

Now, the voice I hear
is none other than my own,
although in the quiet of my own heart
I can hear tinges of my mom in these words, too.

"I have to." I tell myself.
"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down His call a zillion times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me to follow His lead,
to step out in faith,
to go where He calls
even though I have no idea where that is,
to call me again.
And, HE DID.
(Over and over and over again, HE DID).
I have to go."

So, here I am.

Remembering God's leading in the past to find courage to step out into the future.
Realizing God's call has always been just where I needed to be.
Celebrating God's guidance and ever continual prompting of my heart.
Anticipating God's provision, blessing, favor, and love in calling me forward.
Knowing God's call - when lived out, and looked back on in retrospect,
will have me, like so many times before, ready to do it all over again.

Did I know a thing about New Jersey? Nope!
Was I equipped to handle the bitterly cold, snow filled winter of Wisconsin? Nope!
Has living in my home state been a skip down easy street? Nope!

But, in all these places,
and in all the faces in each place,
and in every situation and all circumstances,
my God was there.

And, me, I have grown.  Oh, how I have grown.
And me,
(ME - the one God hand-picked to
move to New Jersey,
to head to Wisconsin,
to return to New Mexico),
I have a heart full of memories.  Such sweet memories.
I have seen the undeniable move of God.
I have felt His nearness and have been held by His faithfulness.

And, I say all of that to say this:
If you would like me to come to your church or your town
to speak at an event or for a woman's retreat,
this girl will pray and then,
if God says so,
she will pack her suitcase,
and go wherever God calls her.

Do I know how this is going to work? Nope!
Do I know all the details? Nope!
Do I feel equipped for the job at hand? Nope!

But, as my Handsome Honey would say,
"You'll be fine, Beautiful. You've got God."

Yes, I certainly, amazingly, thankfully do.....
and God is all I need.



For more information, visit my "Speaking Page."







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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Voice of My Father~

My father passed away over ten years ago,
and yet, at times,
it seems as though time has stood still since I saw him last.


In my mind's eye, I can see him still -
sitting out on the back porch,
legs crossed,
one leg resting atop one knee.


And of course,
punctuating those long legs of his, cowboy boots.


One arm is resting on the arm rest,
while the other one,
bent at the elbow,
is providing his head
with a bit of rest, too.


While I vividly recall his mannerisms and gentle ways,
it is the words he spoke to me that I remember most.
I think this is because he was a man of few words.
Even now, I hear his voice of instruction, guidance, humor and spunk.

In winter: Don't forget to pack a sleeping bag in the trunk of your car.

In summer: If you get a flat tire, make sure when you pull over you aren't parking on tall, dry grass. You wouldn't want to start a fire. Oh....and watch for snakes.

In fall: Isn't that the prettiest harvest moon you have ever seen?

In spring: Watch for snakes. (Snakes seemed to be on his mind a lot). The weather is getting warm and they'll be coming out.

In conversation in our home: Talk nice.

When traveling: Don't drive too fast.

After dinner: How about warming us a piece of that peach cobbler and putting a little shot of ice cream on it?

When shopping: Let's just pop in here for a minute and see what they have.

When someone in our family was angry: Why are you mad at me? I didn't throw any rocks at your dog.

When referring to me: How's Daddy's Darlin'?

It is these phrases, these words, that now give me comfort, keep me packing a sleeping bag in my trunk during the cold months of winter,keep me watching out for snakes, and smiling.

It is no different with my Heavenly Father.
Every day, in my heart, I hear his voice speaking to me, too.

In relationships: Love another as I have loved you.

In trials: Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

In decision-making: Acknowledge me and I will direct your paths.

In my mistakes: Confess your sins to me and I will forgive you.

In my fears: I didn't give you a spirit of fear. I gave you love, power and a sound mind.

In my day-to-day life: I am with you always.

I am so thankful for my earthly father. His wisdom and love guide me still.

Yet, I am most thankful for my Heavenly Father,
The Giver of all good gifts,
the One who gave me the precious gift of my earthly father,
the One who knows me better than I know myself.

It is HIS voice that leads me into the paths of righteousness.
It is HIS voice that leads me to my eternal home.
It is HIS voice I want guiding me each and every day.~

(Reposting in honor of Father's Day and my Daddy's birthday, June 22.)







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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Faith to Go~

Only one time.
Just one.
That's it.

Like Gideon,
when I set out my fleece asking God for confirmation,
He answered.

And, like Gideon,
wanting to know for sure
what God had already revealed to me with my first fleece,
I set out another one.

Only this time,
God remained silent.
He answered only one time,
the first time.

Why was God gracious (and patient!) enough
to humor Gideon's need to know a second time,
a second time?
And, not mine?

As I sat staring at the San Jose flower blooming smack dab in the middle of our backyard (a seed from a flower in the front yard had obviously made it to our backyard, completely hidden out of sight, until a few weeks ago), I found my heart wrestling with the God who had been so gracious to answer me in the first place, the first time.

But, God.  
I really, really, REALLY, need to know.  
This is an important issue I'm grappling with.  
This could (and most likely would) change everything.  
This is HUGE, Lord.  
Can't you please give me a sign?

And, all I kept hearing over and over again in my spirit,
a first time,
a second time,
a third time,
a fourth time,
a fifth time,
a time for every time I questioned God,
was this:
I already did.

Followed by this question:
Do you trust me?

It was obvious my knowing the answer
wasn't where the possible break down
in my "doing or not doing" would happen.
It was in the area of my trusting and obeying.

I had heard God just fine.
But, was I listening?

If I wasn't listening with one fleece,
what made me think I would listen with two, or three, or four BILLION?

God had spoken.
Now - would I move?

Yes, discovering God's will is important.
It really, really, REALLY matters because it can (and most likely will) change everything.
But, here's the thing:
Knowing God's will is not the same thing as doing God's will.
And, as much as God wants us to know His will,
He only reveals it to us so we. can. do. it.

So many times,
when we ask God for answers,
we already know what God is whispering to our heart.
More times than not,
when we try and determine God's will for our life,
we already have a good idea what His will might be.





I can't speak for you, but I can say this about me.




It's not the knowing (or lack of knowing)
that keeps me standing still,
it's the trusting and obeying.




Which takes me back to Gideon.



When God first approached Gideon,
Gideon was hiding.
God -
who knows the beginning from the end,
who knows us better than we know ourselves,
who knows the ALL of all there is to know,
was very intentional in the words He chose to use to address this cowardly man.

God referred to Gideon as a mighty man of valor.

Like the San Jose in my backyard,
God planted a seed of "future fruition"
into the soil of Gideon's heart,
only Gideon didn't even know it was there.

If Gideon would have realized it,
if he would have used his faith to water this seed,
it would had taken root and blossomed immediately.

Gideon never would have set out the fleece.
He wouldn't have needed to.
By the very name God called Gideon,
it was more than obvious,
God was calling Gideon into battle.

This unlikely mighty man of valor wasn't needing more direction,
he was needing more faith to trust and obey.
God knew this and graciously gave Gideon what he needed.
Two fleece-confirming moments later,
faith sprung up, blossomed,
and Gideon moved in the direction God was leading him.



Have you asked God for a sign?



Has He been faithful to show you?



And, like me,
do you find yourself waiting for
a second one,
or third one,
 or ...?



Maybe,
just maybe,
instead of asking God for a sign,
we need to be asking God
for another measure of faith.

Maybe,
just maybe,
instead of asking God to show us the way to go,
we need to ask God to give us courage to step out in the direction He is already leading us in.

Maybe,
just maybe,
instead of asking God to help us hear His voice,
we need to ask God to help us listen and obey.

Maybe,
just maybe,
what's holding you and I back is not the need to know,
but the faith to go.







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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

When God Pays It Forward~

Some of the deepest wounds we encounter
are not from our enemies.

We can handle "enemy" blows
because we are
on our guard,
prepared,
expecting nothing less.

After all,
they ARE our enemies.

The wounds our enemies inflict
might slow us down,
might set us back,
might mess up our plans
and mess with our emotions for a while,
but the emotional depth of the wound,
superficial at best.

Sadly,
the deepest wounds we encounter
come from the people who
and the places where
we expect it least.

Those who share the same color jersey.
Those who share the same company name on their paycheck.
Those who share the same pew.
Those who share the same address.
Those who share the same name and blood.

Wounds from those who supposedly have our back
leave us flat on our back.

Wounds from those who are supposedly our "support system"
reach all the way
to the marrow of our bones.

The recovery time and healing
for these kind of wounds -
days, months, often years long.

In our hurt and humanness,
we wonder why God would let this happen?
After all,
if He would have chosen to
He could have chosen
for things to work out differently.

Which in turn,
if we allow the Spirit to guide
our thoughts,
our recovery,
our healing,
will inevitably bring us
to Jesus,
to His suffering,
to the cross of Calvary,
and to this:

Why would God let this happen?
After all,
if He would have chosen to
He could have chosen
for things to work out differently.

Jesus came to save His people.
Every single person who ever lived
was created in His image.
We aren't the "enemy",
we are family.

And yet,
from His own people,
He received the deepest wound.

Betrayed by a kiss from Judas
who was in His "inner circle".

Pierced in the hands and feet
by you and me and
our sinful nature,
our selfish choices,
our pride and self-reliance.

And yet,
through this "deadly blow"
Satan was defeated
and God was glorified.

And, you and me -
we were redeemed.

Because what we often fail to remember
and what we are quick to forget is this:
Jesus is the redeemer.

No matter the wound,
our God can heal it,
and not only that,
our God can redeem it.

No matter the wound,
our God can use it for a Kingdom purpose.

We can focus on what's been done to us -
replaying it over and over and over again
in our thoughts,
in our words,
in our actions
or,
we can focus on what God will do for us
and for others
through it,
in spite of it,
because of it.

So often,
when we have been wounded so deeply,
we yearn for justice to be done,
for revenge to have its way.

But honestly,
when we fully grasp
the redeeming power of redemption,
why would we want to settle for anything less
than God using our "worst wound"
for His absolute best?

Our healing is not found in
praying for God to "payback"
those who have hurt us.

Our healing is found in
releasing our wound to God -
through the power of forgiveness -
and praying for God
to redeem it,
and pay it forward
in ways that only He,
our precious Redeemer,
can.









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Thursday, May 25, 2017

When We Stop Realizing~

So often,
we think age equates maturity -
the older we are
the more mature we are.

And yet,
this isn't always the case.

An adult can be just as immature as a child,
if not more so.

The same is true spiritually.

We may have grown up in church.
We may have read the Bible through and through.
We may have hidden scriptures in our hearts.
We may even earn our living by serving in ministry.

And yet,
Peter,
with all the conviction and fervency
he can convey using mere words,
warns us of the
not-to-be-missed,
not-to-be-overlooked,
not-to-be-taken-lightly truth
in these two verses:

Therefore, dear friends,
since you have been forewarned,
be on guard so that you may not be
carried away by the error of the lawless
and fall from your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
~2 Peter 3:17-18

Growth requires growing.

I know this sounds more than obvious,
but how often do we stop to realize
that if we stop realizing
we stop growing?
(Go ahead. Re-read that again. I'll wait.)

When we stop realizing how precious grace is.

When we stop realizing how undeserving we are of it.

When we stop realizing our ever present need of it.

When we stop realizing others need it, too.

When we stop realizing how often we fail in grace-full living.

And,
what about knowledge?

When we stop realizing hidden truths revealed by the Spirit.

When we stop realizing our need for intimate fellowship with God.

When we stop realizing knowing leads us to doing.

When we stop realizing we don't know it all.

Therefore, dear friends,
since you have been forewarned,
be on guard so that you may not be
carried away by the error of the lawless
and fall from your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
~2 Peter 3:17-18

How do we keep from being carried away?
How do we keep from falling from our secure position?

We keep growing in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

No, age doesn't equate maturity;
steady growth does.

May we heed the words of Peter.

May we keep realizing our need to realize.

May we keep
growing in His grace,
growing in His knowledge,
growing up in Christ.









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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When Religion Hurts~

Sometimes our greatest need
and our place of coming face to face with Jesus
and receiving His all consuming healing,
will be the very place that
separates us from the crowd,
leaves us on the outside looking in,
gets us thrown right out of the synagogue.

Sometimes our deepest wound
and our place of touching heart to heart with God
and experiencing His all consuming love,
will be the very place that
people question and pass judgment,
people turn their backs,
people completely miss the touch of God.

Not everybody will celebrate a healing.
Not everybody will rejoice a life set free.
Not everybody will recognize God's unmistakable presence in a life
or the work He is doing through a life.

And sadly,
sometimes,
it is the religious people of the day -
those who profess
to understand God best,
to know God most -
who miss God altogether.

And sadly,
sometimes,
it is the religious people of the day -
those who profess
to be doing in the name of God
and ministering in the name of God,
who misrepresent God altogether.

God seldom moves the same way twice.
His miracles are as unique and individual
as each unique and individual circumstance,
as each unique and individual person.

If we look for Him
inside the box,
within our neatly defined man-made rules,
we are sure to miss Him.

A man was born blind -
not because he or his parents had sinned
like the religious people of the day piously speculated,
but so through his need,
and God's surpassing greatness to meet this need,
God would be glorified.

When Jesus,
through spit, mud,
and blind faith on the part of the blind man,
brought sight where only darkness had been,
those walking in religious darkness refused to see
The Light.

Holding on to all they had to hold on to,
they couldn't see beyond
the traditions of men and their religious rules.

And despite the fact that not one blind person
had ever been given sight before,
the man healed  -
who had come face to face with Jesus,
who had come heart to heart with God,
who now believed this must be God,
was thrown out the synagogue.

No clapping.
No celebrating.
No rejoicing.

Only Judgment.
Only "We know better than you."
Only rejection.

For the man who was blind but could now see,
this was his second blessing.
For not only did he receive the gift of sight that day,
he received
in place of religion,
the gift of Jesus, Himself,
and he fell down and worshiped Him.

Living Christianity by a set of rules,
with an unchanged, religious heart
will always lead to judging others
instead of trying to save others.

Just look at the woman caught in adultery.
It was the religious people of the day
who brought her to Jesus for judgment,
who held the stones in their hands.

Just like this woman,
just like this blind man,
I've been in their shoes.

Maybe, you have, too.

When my greatest need
and my coming face to face with Jesus
and receiving of His all consuming healing
found me
separated from the crowd,
on the outside looking in,
thrown right out of the synagogue.

When my greatest wound
and my coming heart to heart with God
and experiencing His all consuming love
found me
questioned and judged,
turned on,
and my touch of God completely missed.

When I lost my husband,
God led me to my laptop.
Raw, honest words of grief
poured freely from my heart and out through my fingertips.
But, always - always - always -
woven between each and every word
were the precious words whispered to my heart by His precious Spirit -
words affirming, reminding and giving testimony to
the healing presence,
the faithfulness,
and the all consuming love of my God.

In every word I wrote,
in every breath I took,
in every tear I cried,
He was the ALL that was
upholding me,
sustaining me,
guiding me,
blessing me,
carrying me,
refreshing me,
restoring me,
healing me.

God opened my eyes
in my time of greatest need and deepest wounding
to see His presence
and to witness His glory as never before.

Only those around me missed it.
They completely missed.

This - seven months after losing my man.

"We don't think you're handling the death of your husband right."

"Oh, what makes you think that?"

"We read your writing. You need to agree to grief counseling or you are terminated immediately."

But like this man who was once blind but could now see,
my rejection was my second blessing.
For not only did I receive the gift of knowing God as never before,
I have and continue to see God use
the very words He gave me,
the very words that poured from a heart of grief
to heal and comfort,
to mend and bind,
to encourage and lift up those
all around the world
who are brokenhearted.

The very words
that got me thrown out of ministry at the church where I worked
have become my ministry.

My greatest need and deepest wound
have been used by God
to glorify my God
in ways I could never even think or imagine.

Healing and a testimony for a blind man.
Forgiveness and a testimony for a woman caught in adultery.
Comfort and a testimony for a widow making her way through grief.

Religion minus the love of Jesus - judges, hurts, and rejects people.
Jesus minus the man-made rules of religion - heals, saves, and restores people.

Yes, I've been in their shoes.

And like this man who was once blind but could now see,
and like the woman who was caught in adultery,
I, too,
with praise and thanksgiving
pouring from my heart,
fall at His feet and worship Him.












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Saturday, May 20, 2017

If Only~

If only they would have known.

And yet, from their very actions,
it is very clear,
they didn't have a clue.

The one they thought would stand with them,
stooped passively to the ground and
began writing in the sand.

The one they thought would listen to their accusations,
knelt silently in their midst and
began speaking to their hearts.

The one they thought would dole out judgment,
stood in this temple
now turned into a make-shirt courtroom and
began revealing again
why He was here,
why He had come,
why He had placed upon His divinity, humanity.

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone."*

"Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath not man condemned thee?"**

"Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."***

And this, yes - this:
"Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man."****

If only they would have known
the heart and the mission of Jesus.

If they had,
these seekers of judgment and condemnation,
never would have taken this disgraced lady
and placed her at the feet of the God of all grace.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; 
but that the world through him might be saved.
~John 3:17

If only they would have known
Jesus doesn't seek to find our faults and expose them to the world;
Jesus seeks to find our hearts and expose us to His love, forgiveness, and grace.

If only they would have known
Jesus isn't a judge; Jesus is a Savior.

And while sin abounded that day
in the lives of all that were present,
(all except Jesus, of course)
only one found grace.
Only one found forgiveness.
Only one left free and whole.


If only they would have known.






* ~John 8:7
** ~John 8:10
***~John 8:11
****~John 8:15








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Friday, May 19, 2017

I Want to See~

As soon as I turn the corner, I see him.
White cane in hand,
he taps his way along the sidewalk.

The tilt of his head in my direction
lets me know
he has "seen" me, too.

As I slowly drive past,
I try to imagine life in his shoes.

Guided by touch.
Navigating through life by way of sound.
Living each moment without truly seeing all that the moment holds.

To not be able to see a sunrise.

To not be able to stand atop a vista and take in the view.

To not be able to gaze into the eyes of a child.

To not be able to read a hand-written letter.

To not be able to see your own reflection in a mirror.

As I make my way on down the street,
heading back into my own life,
I steal one more view of him in the rear-view mirror.

And, I see it.

The face of this man is not only sporting darkly tinted glasses,
but also a smile.

I pause in my heart and wonder.

Is it possible to be blind and yet still see?
Is it possible to see and yet be so very blind?

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes but do not see,
who have ears but do not hear.
~Jeremiah 5:21

Do you have eyes but fail to see,
and ears but fail to hear?
~Mark 8:18

Vision.
It is so much more
than seeing what is in front of us.

How often do you and I walk through life blind?

Guided by fear.
Navigating our way through life
by way of earthly cares and concerns,
insecurities and doubts.
Living each moment without truly seeing all that the moment holds.

To not be able to see the heartache underneath the smile of a dear friend.

To not be able to see the sin in our own heart.

To not be able to see God's design for our life tucked into the trials and disappointments.

To not be able to see the strength we possess because Christ lives in us.

To not be able to see the blessings of today because we're stuck in the past and worrying about the future.

To not be able to see God in the everyday moments of our day.

Oh precious, Lord. I want to see.
I don't want to stumble through life
only catching a glimpse of You here
or a brief view of You there.

I want to see You in everything,
in all things,
in the WHOLE of my life.

Touch the eyes of my heart, Lord.
Remove all that hinders me from having a clear view.
OPEN. MY. EYES.
I want to see, Lord.

Arriving at my destination,
I step out of my car.

As I walk along the sidewalk,
I look up,
and,
I see it.

There,
as plain as day
is a heart-shaped cloud.

God's healing touch has already begun,
and I smile.










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Thursday, May 18, 2017

When You Are Totally Immersed Deep Within~

Sometimes we only see the teeniest, tiniest glimpse of what God is doing.
Other times, in retrospect, we see the enormity of what God has already done
and is continuing to do
and it is more than we could ever have hoped, dreamed, or imagined.

"You should start a blog."

Words from my sister in 2009.
Not knowing what a blog even was,
and not being a writer,
her words seemed more like a funny joke than a sensible suggestion.

"Really, you should."

So, I did.

Now, here I sit, almost midnight, almost 8 years later.

And while I know all that Heartprints of God has always been and will always be is
God-orchestrated, God-inspired, God-fueled, God-given -
the past 15 months here,
in this space,
have been for me, personally,
an absolute life saver.

So often, when God calls us "into service"
we think we are the ones ministering to others
when God, Himself, is using our willingness and our obedience
to minister to us.

For me,
during this "wilderness season" of grief, transition,
and an "alone" unlike I have ever felt before,
God has used this precious place
to meet some of my deepest needs.

He has used comments, likes, shares, messages, emails
and prayers from you, my faithful readers,
to fill my heart with a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

"Oh Lord, where would I be without Heartprints of God?
What would I have to fill my days and
what would I have to satisfy this insatiable need
to tell others about Your goodness?
For 25 years, I have been in ministry.
I've been in classrooms and churches where
I've been able to use my God-given gifts to minister to others.
But now, Lord.
Here in this wilderness place.
What would I do without Heartprints of God?"

These are the words that poured from my heart tonight
as I washed my face while getting ready for bed.

And not surprising to those of you who know me or
those who have read here for any amount of time,
tears followed.

Tears of thanksgiving.
Tears of praise.
Tears of overwhelming realization that
those 5 words - "you should start a blog" -
were for such a time as this.

And then, this -
the realization that if we are willing
when we hear God say,
"Really, you should"
and we do,
there is nothing He can't do through us.

I'm not a writer -
but here in this place,
God writes through me.

And these past 15 months,
God has used this place not only to
(I pray) encourage you,
but to encourage me

He has used this place not only to
(I pray) comfort you,
but to comfort me.

He has used this place not only to
(I pray) draw you closer to Him,
but to draw me closer to Him.

He has used this place not only to
(I pray) fan the flames of your faith,
but to fan the flames of my faith.

He has used this place not only to
(I pray) help you find your purpose
and your place in and through Him,
but to help me find my purpose
and my place in and through Him.

He has used this place not only to
(I pray) provide companionship,
fellowship and a sense of
you-are-not-in-this-alone to you,
but to provide companionship,
fellowship and a sense of
you-are-not-in-this-alone to me.

"Oh Lord, where would I be without Heartprints of God?"

But thank God, I am not without.
I am totally immersed deep within.

And, I thank Him with every fiber of my being,
from the deepest place of my heart.
For where would Heartprints of God be
if it weren't for my God who meets me here?

And I thank you.
For where would Heartprints of God be
if it weren't for you who join me here?

How can one lady be so extremely blessed?

I don't know.

But, I am.
I most certainly am.

"You should start a blog. Really, you should."

Oh, I am so glad God did.











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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Captured Thought~

A captured thought.

That's what it was.

There, written right next to the verse,
the thought of my man
as he thought about his God,
captured in black ink
on the now-yellowed pages
of his Bible.

And, instantly,
his thought about his God
captured my thoughts.

So much so,
that I put the Bible down,
picked up my laptop
and googled the word he had written.

It's not that I wasn't familiar with this word,
I was.
It's just the word lover in me knows
there is always more to a word
than first meets our eyes.

And, there is always, always, always
more to the words in God's Holy Word
than first meets our heart, too.

Depth. Richness. Insight.

A thought just waiting to be captured
and illuminated by the precious Holy Spirit.

Dignifies.

This is the word my love had written.

According to TheFreeDictionary.com dignify means
1. To confer dignity or honor on; give distinction to
2. To raise the status of (something unworthy or lowly); make honorable

Dictionary.com defines dignify like this:
1. to confer honor or dignity upon; honor; ennoble
2. to give a high-sounding title or name to; confer unmerited distinction upon [emphasis mine]

Turning my gaze back to my husband's Bible
(one of my most precious treasures on this earth!)
I realized,
yes,
his thought had completely captured
the depth,
the richness,
the insight
tucked deep into the words
found in the first few verses of Psalm 103.




Dignifies.

Yes, this is exactly
(and amazingly and unbelievably)
what our God does.

He places upon us unmerited distinction as His children.
He gives us a high sounding title and name - Children of God.
He raises our status from a lowly sinner to an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus.

He dignifies us.

I'm so thankful my husband wrote down
the thought that captured his attention
as he read these verses.

His thought,
captured mine.

In fact, I'm still sitting here
captured by the thought
of  how His lovingkindness and His tender mercies
do indeed bring so much dignity
to me,
to my life,
to my hopes and my dreams,
to my past, my present, and my future.

He. Dignifies. Me.

He. Dignifies. You.

Selah (Pause and think about that)

Yes, pause and think about that.

Let it capture your thoughts, too.

Because if you do -
I have a feeling,
just like me
as I turned the page
and continued feeding and digesting on His Word,
you will find yourself
sitting a little taller in your chair,
holding a little higher your head,
and living out a little louder
the words of this Psalm:

Bless the Lord,
Oh my soul;
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.








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Sunday, May 14, 2017

This, I know This~

There's not a whole lot
I know a whole lot about.

But, this -
I know this.
In fact, I consider myself an expert.

I know the heart of a mother.

As a teacher and administrator for 18 years
and a Director of Children's Ministries for 7,
I have met and known an incredible amount of mothers.

From sitting with our knees tucked up under our chins
in chairs designed for those much younger than us,
to standing outside my classroom door,
to late night phone calls,
to notes left behind on my desk,
to prayer requests and prayers prayed together on bent knees, -
I have been face to face with
the heart of a mother.

From mothers who
never finished high school and
felt so ill-equipped to be a mother,
to mothers who
had diplomas and degrees and yet,
felt so ill-equipped to be a mother.

From mothers who
with humble eyes bent low and hands outstretched
asking to borrow money from me until the next pay check
wondered how not having enough was
shaping their child,
to mothers who
having "more than enough"
wondered how their affluence and easy life style was
shaping theirs.

From mothers who
were divorced and broken
trying to find their identity
while helping their children find theirs,
to mothers who
were stay-at-home-housewives
trying to find their identity
while helping their children find theirs.

From mothers who
wanting only the best for their children
felt over-controlling, outspoken, and out of line,
to mothers who
wanting only the best for their children
felt too-passive, easily manipulated, and out of control.

From mothers who
had lost a child
through miscarriage, death, or divorce
feared the future with one less,
to mothers who
expecting yet again
feared the future with one more.

The heart of a mother.

It is giving, sacrificing, loving, caring, mending, nurturing, correcting, listening, instructing, molding, yearning, desiring, lamenting, pondering, inspiring, empowering, encouraging, teaching, releasing, embracing, refining, defining, determining, questioning, believing, hoping, willing, and unrelenting,

In the heart of a mother,
I have seen the heart of our Heavenly Father.

A heart that will stop at nothing
for the good of her children.

A heart that will give its all
so that all might be given
to her son and to her daughter.

A heart that
even if it costs its own
will give and give and give.

Yes, I have seen and known
the heart of a mother.

And, It. Is. Beautiful.

If the heart of a mere human,
flawed and imperfect as we are
can be this beautiful,
how beautiful still is the heart
of our Heavenly Father?

I'm not there yet,
because the vastness of His heart
is unfathomable, incomprehensible, without boundaries or end.

But the more I
sit with my knees tucked up under my chin at His feet,
or stand in His presence with hands lifted high,
or kneel before Him with humble eyes turned down and outstretched hands,
the more I come face to face with His heart.

No, I'm not an expert
on the heart of our Heavenly Father,
but from the glimpses I have seen,
It. Is. Beautiful.

It. Is. Beautiful. Beyond. That. Of. A. Heart. Of. A. Mother.

It. Is. Beautiful. Beyond. Description.

It. Is. Beautiful. That. We. Can't. Even. Imagine.

We see bits and pieces of it in the heart of a mother.

We see the height and depth of it on Calvary's cross.

But, one day -
one day we will see it face to face.

There's not a whole lot
I know a whole lot about.

But this-
I know this.

I can't wait to spend eternity becoming an expert on
the heart of our Heavenly Father.










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